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How To Become A Paralegal
Paralegals are legal assistants to lawyers, but the scope of their responsibilities is becoming wider. Lawyers offer legal advice for a fee and then present cases in courts of law. Paralegals research the facts of a case to try to understand more of what any client is trying to prosecute or defend. They may be employed in a firm or have their own paralegal business service from which they hire out their services. Those interested in learning how to become a paralegal should be aware that the job can be tough, but rewarding.
What is it like to Be a Paralegal?
Paralegals assist lawyers in case preparation, researching the facts of a case, and other duties that might help attorneys. They can generate reports on information so an attorney can decide whether or not specific cases are worthwhile to pursue.
There are different types of paralegals such as corporate, litigation, public, and private paralegals. They are generally knowledgeable in legal terminology, know how to perform quality research, and are flexible, as law becomes more complex and specialized. Sometimes, paralegals are preferred who might have a very specific background that is beneficial to a legal firm or organization.
The nature of the position can be quite complex and their duties are becoming more and more diversified. Anyone interested in finding out how to become a paralegal may want to research the internet or speak with local college administration staff. Talking with existing paralegals is another great resource of information.
As companies and organizations continue to cut costs, there is a faster than average expected job growth for paralegals as their general costs are generally lower than most lawyer fees. There is also a general need for more legal services as the general population increases and more and more people begin to use prepaid legal insurance plans.
What Kind of Schooling Do I Need to Become a Paralegal?
If someone is interested in learning how to become a paralegal, he or she should realize that educational requirements usually depend on the employer. Some community and technical colleges offer a paralegal associate’s degree, and for those who might already have a college degree there are certification programs. Paralegals can have as little as an associate’s degree or can continue on to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree, as well. A few employers are willing to do on-the-job training.
Depending on someone’s situation, he or she may look into different ways of completing the education requirements in order to stay competitive. Due to convenience, getting an online education from an online school is becoming more popular. Many colleges offer classes, or even entire programs, through the internet. Make sure online colleges are accredited and that any desired credits transfer. Some certification examinations are offered online, as well.
College advisers and career counselors are great resources of information on how to become a paralegal. There might even be complete education programs dedicated to the profession.
Although not expressly required by law, getting certified as a paralegal can help someone land a great paralegal position. One of the main certifying bodies is the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) They award the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and Certified Paralegal (CP) credentials. There are other certifying bodies, but most have some type of educational and relevant work experience requirements, and depend on successfully passing a certification examination.